Corinne Cross woke up at 02:15, forty-five minutes before the witching hour. Her cell phone was vibrating with the nocturnal alarm she had set daily, and she reached over to turn it off. Yawning, sat up and pushed her covers aside.
She got out of bed and turned on the small lamp by her desk, opening her laptop. She'd left off mid-sentence and read through the preceding paragraph a couple of times before putting her fingers to the keys. She was working on a story about letting go of control, inspired by a bus driver who had stayed there for a couple of weeks in May and a song she'd loved when she was twelve. It was going pretty well and would soon join the small stack of finished projects now bouncing around the internet in answer of various submission calls.
The new routine was working really well for Corinne. She went to bed pretty early, then woke up at two and got a solid half hour of late night writing in before the witching hour, which was when the ghosts came. Then she did her rounds, checked in with her guests and watered the graveyard flowers before going back to bed for a few hours. Brunch every day, feasting on whatever her guests hadn't eaten in the night, was her new favorite thing and somehow the whole sleeping in two chunks seemed to work really well for her insomniac brain.
At four minutes past three, Corinne left her bedroom and moved into the hall. The house was quiet, but it was no big surprise. Right now there were only two guests visiting, and they were both pretty laid-back ghosts, unlikely to play loud music or throw things around. Pete mostly kept to his room upstairs, and Kimmie was... ah, there she was, curled up with a book in the upstairs living room.
"Hi Kimmie," Corinne said, poking her head in.
"Oh, hey, Corinne," the girl smiled, looking up from the book.
"How's the story coming?""Not too badly." She smiled back. "How was the omelette?" She tried a new recipe yesterday.
"It was good, but you know, I think bell peppers would be a good move. And more cheese."
"Hm... that's a thought. I'll see you around."
Before going downstairs, Corinne checked the doors to the three empty rooms. The last unlocked - a new guest was here. She knocked, and when no one answered she peeked inside. It was empty, and nothing seemed out of place. Oh well, whoever they were, they were somewhere around the house.
The downstairs was as quiet as the upstairs. On the counter by the stove stood the small tin of darjeeling Hermina had given her the day before. As she set about preparing a mug, she heard someone clear their throat. Looking over, she saw a middle-aged person in a long, grey cardigan standing in the doorway looking confused.
"Excuse me," they said quietly, eyes darting around the kitchen.
"Where am I? I can't remember how I got here..."
"I'm afraid you've passed away," she replied. "What's your name?"
"I'm Jay," they replied, looking even more confused. "Passed away, wh-"
"I know it's confusing." Corinne opened a cupboard and took out another mug. "Why don't we sit down for some tea and I can explain everything..."